Gary Roush is a hero to his sister, others |

Gary Roush is a hero to his sister, others

Post Independent/Kara K. Pearson

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. ” For Ginny Saliman, her brother Gary Roush is a hero.

Born 55 years ago in Parkersburg, W. Va., Gary came into the world with cerebral palsy. He was in a special school until eighth grade, and for the next 13 to 15 years he went to night school and achieved his graduate equivalency diploma (GED). He worked in sheltered workshops and lived in residential facilities for more than 25 years.

After their mother retired from a secretary position at the local YWCA, “she found it easier to have him at home with her,” Ginny said. While he was “good company” for her mom, he withdrew into himself.

“He sat in a recliner and channel surfed and played Scrabble, and wrote in his journal. He got very heavy and depressed,” Ginny said.

Then in 2004, their mother died unexpectedly. Gary wanted to come west to live near Ginny in Glenwood Springs.

A week after the funeral Ginny came home to Glenwood and asked Mountain Valley Developmental Services (MVDS), who provide for the developmentally disabled, if they could place Gary in a residential program. She was told there was a 10-year waiting list. She prevailed on MVDS to make an exception for Gary and they placed him in one of their homes, a townhouse where he lives with two roommates.

The move was a miracle for Gary.

There he learned independence that has brought him into his own and out into the world.

“When you get to know him, there are areas of his life” that display a man with passionate interests.

“He’s an avid reader” of the Harry Potter series, Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys adventures. He loves baseball and has a huge collection of baseball cards.

And he loves to have fun.

Before she died, Ginny said their mother promised to take Gary to Disney World. Ginny took him there, “this man who had been to the circus once and never to an amusement park.”

They did it all, the rides, dinner at Cinderella’s castle. Ginny said to him, “Bubby, did you ever think you’d have so much fun? And he said, ‘I never thought I’d have fun.'”

Since he’s moved to the valley, Gary landed a job in the Garfield County Clerk’s office sorting paperwork under the supervision of a job coach from MVDS. He also works five days a week as a volunteer at Valley View Hospital.

He’s learned to use the bus to get around town and loves to go to the mall or Wal-Mart to shop.

He’s competes in Special Olympics, in bowling and basketball.

“He’s my hero, to see what he’s come to now,” Ginny said. “He’s been able to realize so many dreams. He didn’t know anything about the world when he came out here, and he went cold turkey” into independent living, she said.

At the clerk’s office on a recent afternoon Gary was busy sorting vehicle registration forms under the supervision of his job coach Mike Blair.

“We love him,” said deputy county clerk Marian Clayton.

He spoke about his love for the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.

“I’ve followed them since I was four years old,” he said. “I used to listen to them on the radio. They’ll be coming to Denver in 2007.”

He also loves pepperoni pizza and bowling and singing. He’s also proud of his competition in Special Olympics.

“I like bowling. I came in second in regionals,” he said. “I lost to a guy from Steamboat Springs.”

He also received a signal honor in last summer’s Special Olympics in Parachute when he was chosen to sing the National Anthem.

“The hardest part is hoping I won’t screw up. There were a lot of people there,” he said. “I was nervous before but not while I was doing it.”

Asked by Ginny what he would like people to know about him, Gary said: “I’m a hard worker, I do the best I can. I like to think I make a difference in people’s lives.”

For Ginny, her brother is someone she’d like people to know better. The developmentally delayed like Gary sometimes scare people off, Ginny said.

“I want people to see the Gary I know and love.”

Post Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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